It was on a Paris-New York flight that American musician Patti Smith met Stephan Crasneanscki. From his conversations with the creator of the experimental sound collective Soundwalk Collective – which he forms with Simone Merli – and from this friendship linked in the air, will be born an exhibition: “Evidence”.
Specially designed for the Centre Pompidou, this sound and visual montage explores a point of interest common to the two artists: the travels and peregrinations of the French poets Antonin Artaud, René Daumal and Arthur Rimbaud. Like a kind of experimental and multidisciplinary travel diary, “Evidence” takes the public on a poetic and spiritual quest.
Imagined by Patti Smith and the Soundwalk Collective, whose artistic work links anthropology, ethnography and psychogeography and requires long trips of investigation and observation in the field, the exhibition brings together sounds, films, photographs , original drawings, objects. This work invites the public to travel in the footsteps of famous poets, all three of whom considered the perspective offered by the discovery of new horizons as a central element of their creation.
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In the footsteps of poetry
“In the footsteps of Arthur Rimbaud, the adventurer-poet, Stephan left for Harar [en Éthiopie, ndlr], the holy city of Islam, then on the high plateaus of Abyssinia. He came back with pictures, films, recordings, thus bringing me the proofs [‘evidence’ en anglais] of these sacred places, which allowed me to create an atmosphere and to enter into communication with Rimbaud in Abyssinia”details Patti Smith about the beginnings of this collaboration.
Inspired by the material brought back by her collaborator, the musician gives life to their second album Mummer Love, the first opus of an experimental work in three acts. This album follows a first disc on the death of the German singer Nico, Killer Road.
After Arthur Rimbaud, the duo, driven by the desire to extend this metaphysical exploration, focuses on Antonin Artaud. The creator of Soundwalk Collective goes this time to the Copper Canyon in Sierra Tarahumara in northern Mexico, where the poet had consumed peyote, a plant renowned for its entheogenic, psychotropic and hallucinogenic properties, as part of a ritual.
“While Stephan gathered different sound components in this dangerous region, I stayed in New York, where I devoted myself to study. The floor of my room was covered with books, sketches, photographs, while I meditated on the ecstatic and heartbreaking dance of the peyote, imbuing myself with the strangely poignant, visceral voice of Artaud”continues the poetess.
An artistic and spiritual exploration
In homage to the poet René Daumal, Stephan Crasneanscki then goes to the Nanda Devi, the highest fully known mountain in India, whose name means “goddess of Bliss”. Alongside this journey, Patti Smith immersed herself in her translations of Sanskrit texts and Mount Analoguean unfinished novel by Daumal.
In the wake of their favorite poets, Patti Smith and Stephan Crasneanscki bring life to PerfectVision, a triptych of albums recorded during these three trips. Each of the discs, punctuated by the voice of Patti Smith, is intended to take us on a journey to Ethiopia, India and Mexico, in the footsteps of these three major figures of French literature.
It is on the basis of this musical creation that the duo conceives “Evidence”, which links these sound peregrinations to the creations and proofs of existence gathered during their pilgrimages across the globe. So many fragments of life which, put end to end, offer testimony and a unique perspective on the life, work and inspiration of Rimbaud, Artaud and Daumal.
“Evidence”by Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith, is visible until January 23, 2023 at the Center Pompidou, in Paris.